Someone recently wrote me to let me know that they want to start a reading group about my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, and to ask me for input. In response, I went ahead and planned out a series of 10 meetings.
I’m putting this up here in case anyone wants to start a reading group of my book and wants input on how they can do that. Feel free to adopt, adapt, use and abuse all of the the following, or any part thereof. Also, if you have a question, need more information, or want to consult me about anything related, do contact me :)
Hope this will be of assistance to you all!
Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Reading Group
If I were to facilitate a reading group about the book, I would first of all construct the structure of the meetings in a similar way to what I do with the bisexual consciousness raising groups that I facilitate. This is a general structure for all meetings:
Short opening: Explaining the rules for discussion (which are, in my groups: everything said in the room remains in the room, don’t mention things people have said or directly quote them [general references are okay], speak only on your turn, don’t interrupt people while speaking, respect others and what they’re saying, don’t presume anything about anyone [interests, lifestyles, identity, gender, orientation, race, etc.], try to notice how long you speak and that you leave enough time for others as well). Continue reading “Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Reading Group”→
(Written in a discussion on the Bi Tumblr group on facebook. I wanted to post it here because people might find it helpful).
I think acceptance and tolerance are important, and I also support the idea of addressing material oppression of bis. However, I also differ somewhat in my views, since I like thinking about bisexual politics in the most expanse way that I can.
When asked, I always define the goal of the bi movement (that I want/promote) on three levels:
The first level is the one you all addressed here (from a different perspective, though) – liberation of bi people (I use “bi” here as an umbrella term). By this I don’t mean acceptance and tolerance – these terms imply that we are asking to be accepted and tolerated (presumably by straight people), which is problematic because it seems to be deferring to an existing power rather than challenging it. So when I say “liberation of bi people”, I mean attacking all of the structures that help maintain the oppression of bis – challenging and tearing down monosexism as part of a struggle to free ourselves of biphobic/monosexist oppression. Continue reading “Thoughts about the goal of the bisexual movement”→
So, I know a lot of people have been curious about my new book (which isn’t officially out yet, but is on pre-sale!). Since it still doesn’t have a “look inside” feature, I figured I could put chapter summaries here, so that you could have more of an idea of what the book is actually about.
The introduction gives background about the book, about me and my reasons for writing. It also includes important background material for reading the book, such as the difference between liberal and radical, the relation I see between theory and activism, an explanation about trigger warning, and other things you should keep in mind while reading. Continue reading ““Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution” book summary and excerpts”→
Depicted as duplicitous, traitorous, and promiscuous, bisexuality has long been suspected, marginalized, and rejected by both straight and gay communities alike.
Bi takes a long overdue, comprehensive look at bisexual politics—from the issues surrounding biphobia/monosexism, feminism, and transgenderism to the practice of labeling those who identify as bi as either “too bisexual” (promiscuous and incapable of fidelity) or “not bisexual enough” (not actively engaging romantically or sexually with people of at least two different genders). In this forward-thinking and eye-opening book, feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist Shiri Eisner takes readers on a journey through the many aspects of the meanings and politics of bisexuality, specifically highlighting how bisexuality can open up new and exciting ways of challenging social convention.
Informed by feminist, transgender, and queer theory, as well as politics and activism, Bi is a radical manifesto for a group that has been too frequently silenced, erased, and denied—and a starting point from which to launch a bisexual revolution.
For about a decade, same sex marriage has been the flagship issue of the GGGG movement*. Marketed as the single-issue battle which would bring equality and solve GGGG-phobia for all, it has been the main focus of GGGG activist and political effort. The struggle for same sex marriage has been presented to us as a struggle for full equality and citizenship. We are told that the one step separating between us – “the gays” – and perfect rainbow utopia is the ability to register our same sex relationships with the state**. As soon as this right is won, apparently, we’ll be all able to walk away into the sunset.
But before we start with the walking away, we first need to examine what it is that we are asking. Marriage, as an institution, has been a tool of patriarchy, capitalism, and government for about as long as it’s existed. It’s been used to control women, divide and consolidate money and resources, and to strengthen the power of states over their subjects. All in all, for most of history and to this day, it has been one of the most dangerous institutions created by society.
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The curious case of bisexual women
In an article called Curiouser and Curiouser: the Strange ‘Disappearance’ of Male Bisexuality, British gay journalist Mark Simpson writes about biphobia against bi men, and compares their status to that of bisexual women. “It’s unquestionable,” he argues, “that female bisexuality is today much more socially acceptable than male bisexuality, and in fact frequently positively encouraged, both by many voyeuristic men and an equally voyeuristic pop culture.” [This quote is dealt with in greater depth earlier on the chapter]. In this section, I would like to look a bit deeper into this “positive encouragement” and to question whether it really is so positive. Continue reading “Hot sexy bi babes: media depictions of bisexual women”→
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What is feminism? I take after bell hooks, who defined feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression,” and define feminism as a movement to end patriarchy, all forms of patriarchal oppression, and all forms of oppression as a whole. This is the most basic ideology of most forms of feminism, and while many differ in their understandings of patriarchy, sexism and how exactly to end them, this is the basic motivation that most of us share. (While I acknowledge that some may not, I must also acknowledge that their feminism might be a bit awry…) Continue reading “Feminism 101: Patriarchy and the single standard”→
Hegemonic discourse* about what it means to be queer (and therefore, oppressed as queer) constructs queerness as a series of visual markers: certain appearances, certain gender performances, certain clothes, and above all – the proverbial “walking hand in hand on the street” (or simply being in a same-gender relationship). Bisexual people who, for any reason, do not give away these signs, are automatically read as heterosexual by default, because what people “know” about queerness does not include markers of bisexuality. […] However, the same social production of “queer” as this series of visual markers necessarily means that bisexuals who do give out these signals will automatically be read as gay or lesbian by default.
As an offshoot of the need to “redeem” bisexuality and bisexual people through good behaviour*, some people might feel as if all bisexual people need to fit into certain standards of normativity, so as to avoid making other bisexuals “look bad” politically. This includes being either “not bisexual enough” or “too bisexual”**, but also includes such things as radical or “unpalatable” opinions, criticizing assimilationist ideology, speaking too much about specifically bisexual issues (rather than assimilationist gay ones such as marriage, military, adoption, etc.), addressing transgender issues, etc. (For example, some people might feel that the definition of bisexuality should remain gender binary for purposes of palatability for the general population, claiming that “maybe after” more people understand binary bisexuality, “we can start” explaining to them about non-binary genders). Many people might feel as if people with such opinions might damage the bisexual movement, much in the same way in which assimilationist gays often feel that bisexuals might damage their movement by tarring their normative image. In this way, the normativity, which is the condition for entrance into the GGGG movement, is inherited into bisexual movements whose goal is assimilation with the assimilationist gay movement. I call these phenomena “binormativity” and “bi assimilationism” respectively.
* “Redeeming bisexuality through good behaviour” is something I explain in the previous paragraph inside the book. I mean the need for many bisexuals to “prove” that they belong in the LGBT movement by actively contributing to it (and, correspondingly, feeling as though bisexuals who are not LGBT activists do not deserve inclusion in the movement). ** “Too bisexual” and “not bisexual enough” are terms that I define previously as expressions of internalized biphobia directed by bisexuals towards other bisexuals. “Too bisexual” means someone who fits the bisexual stereotypes (cheating, being “promiscuous” i.e. sexually independent, having unsafe sex, etc.). “Not bisexual enough” means someone who doesn’t fit the acceptable “standard” of “true bisexuality” (not having had sex/relationship/emotions with people of at least two genders, etc).
This is from the chapter about monosexism and biphobia, from the sub-section about internalized biphobia (and the sub-sub section about internalized biphobia in intimate relationships). I wrote about three types of internalized biphobia inside intimate relationships; this is the second.
Similar to social settings, internalized biphobia might also influence people inside intimate relationships in a way that is disruptive and harmful both to the relationship and the people within. Inside relationships, some bisexual people might treat their partners in ways similar to those of biphobic monosexual people, as informed by stereotypes about bisexuals’ dishonesty and lack of loyalty, as well as returning to some of the basic underlying themes of internalized biphobia such as lack of acceptance and worthlessness. Continue reading “Snippet #5: Internalized biphobia in intimate relationships”→